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Queen’s Counsel (QC) Justice Dennis Morrison who will chair a Commission of Enquiry into the Paria diving tragedy, is expected to visit T&T soon.

When contacted for comment on Thursday, lead counsel for the Commission of Enquiry, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj said he is awaiting the terms of reference for the Commission of Enquiry (CoE).

He said once the Chairman visits, there will be a meeting.

It is expected that after Cabinet settles the terms of reference, each member of the Commission will be sworn in and the legal team will begin working with the members of the Commission.

Maharaj said before the CoE public hearing takes place, there has to be some groundwork. He explained that the legal team will then work with the Commissioners to prepare the way for the public hearings.

Maharaj also gave the assurance that as the lead counsel he was committed to working towards having the commencement of the enquiry expedited.  

“As senior counsel, I commit to doing what is necessary to have an expedited process and I will work with the Chairman and other Commissioners to have the process expedited,” he assured.

He stated that he was of the firm view that the issues which led to the enquiry are of great public importance.

Attorneys Ronnie Bissessar and Vijaya Maharaj are part of Maharaj’s legal team. 

In early March, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley revealed that a CoE will be held onto the death of four divers- Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Junior, Rishi Nagassar and Yusuf Henry who perished inside a 30-inch diameter pipeline on February 25.

 The previously appointed five-member panel that Dr Rowley set up, was shelved following criticisms from the Opposition which led to the withdrawal of one of its members, Eugene Tiah.

It was the Opposition that called for a CoE. In March, Energy Minister Stuart Young announced that the CoE comprise Justice Morrison (OJ, CD, QC), sub-sea specialist Gregory Wilson, with the third member coming from a specialist international investigative firm, with experience in conducting investigations into accidents and incidents in large industrial settings, especially in oil and gas. That member has not yet been named. There will also be a Secretary of the Commission of Enquiry designated and appointed under Section 6 of the Commission of Enquiries Act, Chapter 19.1, Young revealed. He said the Commission is being asked to submit its report to the President within six months from its first sitting.

Scope of the Commission

  1. Ascertain the scope of works issued by Paria for the exercise.
  2. Ascertain the proposals and plans submitted by LMCS to conduct the work at the material site.
  3. To examine generally the policy, procedures, practices and conduct relating to the employees and organised labour for these types of maintenance exercises for Paria and other companies.
  4. To identify the precise facts and circumstances which led up to and resulted in the loss of life, and whether this was reasonable and justifiable in the particular circumstances. 
  5. To examine all of the decisions and actions were taken after it became clear that the five LMCS Ltd divers went missing. 
  6. To investigate the nature, extent and application of any standing orders, policy considerations, legislation or other instructions in dealing with the situation which gave rise to this incident. 
  7. To identify whether Paria and LMCS employed sufficient safeguards and measures to ensure the safety of its contracted employees, property and the prevention of the incident. 
  8. To determine the adequacy and mechanical integrity of equipment utilised by LMCS. 
  9. To determine the adequacy of LMCS’ plans utilised for the operation. 
  10. To identify whether by act or omission any identified or unidentified party that directly or indirectly caused loss of life.
  11. To examine the roles played by Paria and LMCS through their respective units, individually and collectively, in dealing with this incident, and
  12. To examine all other material circumstances leading up to and surrounding the incident that took place on February 25, 2022, that led to the tragic death of the four LMCS divers.